Salford Citizens Advice

Partners’ briefing quarter three, Winter 2021/22.

Client trends:

The last month of quarter three, December, started to see the impact of the omicron Covid wave, with a slight downturn in the numbers of face-to-face clients towards its end, combined obviously with the Christmas holiday period. We saw 4,174 clients with some 14,948 different advice issues. This is a reduction of some 9% in total clients between quarter three and quarter two, which is a little larger than we would normally expect in terms of the seasonal pattern.

We have restored face-to-face services at all our High Street bureaux, delivered through Broughton Hub, Eccles, Walkden, and Pendleton gateways. These services are though, working at two thirds their pre-pandemic levels, whilst we continue to support better online and phone advice provision, as well as facilitating a blend of office and working from home for our staff and our volunteers.

The marked increase in money gained, some 28%, to just under £2.8 million for the quarter is perhaps evidence that the Social Security system is beginning to function more normally than has been the case over the last two years.

The reconfigured Pendleton and Charlestown ward continues to be where the greatest number of our clients live, at 10%; with Broughton in joint place with  Barton & Winton,  and Weaste & Seedley enjoying third place.

The marked spike in bereavement and death enquiries (up 29%) is still showing in the Q3 figures, followed by utility and communications (up 12%). The previously ‘hot topic’ of education has continued to fall back to more normal levels as children returned to school. We also noted a 55% increase in the number of referrals to our palliative care advice service over the quarter. This shows that the rate of cancer detection and treatment are also beginning to come back to more normal levels. We had previously reported a suppression in the numbers for this project which we feared related to a collapse in engagement for people with cancer with health services, and in a subsequent drop in new diagnoses.

Macmillan partnership (along with a programme of work to improve screening rights):

We were delighted to have been offered funding for two new McMillan Citizens Advice case workers. Recruitment for these posts is underway. This will mean we are able to improve the advice offered for all people in Salford impacted by cancer. We are also pleased to be working under the answer cancer programme to see if we can improve screening rates for cancer, by making very targeted interventions when people are being given advice.

Household support fund:

We have been working with local authority partners, alongside our sister charity, Salford Food Share to support the local delivery of the household support fund across Salford. To do this we have set up a single referral portal for all food projects, as well as citizens advice staff working across the city.

Money advice national re-tendering:

Regrettably, the Money Advice and Pensions Service (MaPS) was forced to abandon the current national tendering for local face-to-face provision. This is the second time in as many years it has failed to run a recommissioning exercise for locally delivered face-to-face provision. I say regrettably, in the sense that this failed commissioning meant a great deal of work was involved in putting forward bids, and it has also resulted in a high level of insecurity within the sector that has resulted in a significant number of excellent staff leaving debt advice as a career, in a time when we have never needed more local debt advice. Significant insecurity in debt advice provision nationally and locally is an almost permanent feature of our current working environment.


A new chapter in our partnership with Salford Food Bank:

We were delighted to be able to agree a new partnership with our colleagues at Salford Food Bank – whereby all their clients will be offered Citizens Advice to look to better resolving the cause of their food insecurity. This follows on from a five-year programme of work previously funded via the lottery board’s help through programme.

Tom Togher

February 2022.